Sevens women get lure of Olympic appearances
EMERGING female rugby talent has been given a huge reason to shine in the new national Uni 7s series: stand out and you could be off to the next Olympic Games.
The coach of the Australian women’s team, Tim Walsh, has revealed he has three professional contracts in his pocket to sign up the best amateur players in the inaugural Uni 7s competition, which begins next month.
The four- tournament series will be launched in Sydney today ahead of the first leg in Launceston on August 26- 27. The Uni 7s contains eight teams across the country, all aligned with universities.
Members of the gold- medal winning Aussie women’s team have been split up among the teams and will be the star attractions, but Walsh’s eyes will be trained on their ambitious teammates.
“I have put aside some contracts there in anticipation we are going to find some raw talent coming out of that series,” Walsh said.
“There is a really good take- up and the teams have four tournaments to build up some consistency. It’s not just a one- off weekend.
“So that gives us a deeper look at what’s out there and I guess we are looking for athletes with a real point of difference. If they have the basic skills, we can train them up.
“But it’s that real speed or physicality that we are going to be looking for to complement our squad looking to the future, whether it be Comm Games next year or the Olympics in 2020.”
With each squad containing 24 players, the Uni 7s will see 192 young women in action.
The success of the Australian women’s team in Rio saw the sport explode with popularity and partici- pants, but Walsh is mindful future growth will be based on future success.
The 2016 side was created largely by harvesting talent from other sports, including touch football, basketball and sprinting. Many had never tackled anyone in their life.
The Uni 7s competition is an evolution of that talent ID process, and Walsh and Uni team coaches shared testing data and recruitment philosophies during open squad trials.
However, Walsh also encouraged people to take a punt on rough diamonds. “We don’t want to miss them,” he said.
EMERGING TALENT: Australia's Ellia Green makes a break during her side’s HSBC World Rugby Women's Sevens Series against Ireland.